Complaints brought by Ukraine against Russia concerning a pattern of human rights violations in Crimea declared partly admissible. 14.01.2021
Firstly, the Court identified the scope of the issue before it and held that what was to be decided was whether the alleged pattern of human-rights violations by Russia in Crimea during the relevant period, namely between 27 February 2014 and 26 August 2015, was admissible. The Court held that it was not called upon in the case to decide whether Crimea’s admission, under Russian law, into Russia had been lawful from the standpoint of international law.
Before considering the allegations of an administrative practice, it had to consider whether Russia had “jurisdiction”, within the meaning of Article 1 of the Convention, over Crimea as from 27 February 2014 and therefore whether it had competence to examine the application. It found that the facts complained of by the Ukrainian Government did fall within the “jurisdiction” of Russia on the basis of effective control that it exercised over Crimea as of that date. When coming to that decision it took into account in particular the size and strength of the increased Russian military presence in Crimea from January to March 2014, without the Ukrainian authorities’ consent or any evidence to prove that there was a threat to Russian troops stationed there under the relevant Bilateral Agreements between them, valid at the time. It also found the Ukrainian Government’s account coherent and consistent throughout the proceedings before it; they had provided detailed and specific information, backed up by sufficient evidence, to prove that the Russian troops had not been passive bystanders, but had been actively involved in the alleged events.
That conclusion is without prejudice to the question of Russia’s responsibility under the Convention for the acts complained of, which belongs to the merits phase of the Court’s procedure.
The Court went on to identify and apply the applicable evidential threshold and its approach to the standard and burden of proof and declared admissible, without prejudging the merits, all but a few of the Ukrainian Government’s complaints of an administrative practice of human-rights violations by Russia.
Lastly, it decided to give notice to the Russian Government of the complaint, not raised until 2018, concerning the alleged transfer of Ukrainian “convicts” to the territory of Russia, and, given the overlap, in this respect, with another inter-State application, Ukraine v. Russia (no. 38334/18), decided to join the latter application to the present case and examine the admissibility and merits of that complaint and the latter application at the same time as the merits stage of the proceedings.